US a nuclear fuel technology development company Lightbridge Corporation announced on 30 May that France’s Framatome had received a voucher from the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN) programme to support the development of Lightbridge Fuel in collaboration with the Idaho National Laboratory.

It represents Framatome’s third GAIN voucher and its first supporting the Lightbridge Fuel design conducted by Enfission, the joint venture between Framatome and Lightbridge Corporation.

“This voucher enables Framatome to apply focused attention on key licensing steps to commercialise Lightbridge Fuel,” said Robert Freeman, vice president, contracts and services, fuel commercial and customer centre at Framatome.

DOE will fund INL at a value of $477,000 for the work, which will be carried out over 12 months.

Framatome and INL will work under the voucher to generate Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA) and a Phenomena Identification Ranking Table (PIRT) based on the Lightbridge Fuel concept, a statement said. Both the FMEA and PIRT are essential steps in licensing an advanced nuclear fuel design in the USA and will be required inputs to the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Framatome and Lightbridge launched joint venture company, Enfission, in January 2018 to develop, license and sell nuclear fuel assemblies based on Lightbridge-designed metallic fuel and other advanced nuclear fuel technology.

Earlier in May, NuScale Power and Enfission signed a memorandum of understanding to explore the use of the metallic fuel technology in NuScale’s small modular reactors.